A big reason for the Nats’ last place status in the National League East has been the disappointing play of veterans Kyle Schwarber, Josh Bell, and Patrick Corbin. All three have performed well below expectations for most of 2021, but on Thursday, they all had major contributions as the Nationals earned a sweep-averting 5-1 win over the Phillies.
As they so often do, the Phillies took an early lead with a first inning run. And this one came via (what was eventually ruled as) a double steal.
BREAKING NEWS— MLB Scoring Changes (@ScoringChanges) May 13, 2021
I know @TMacPhils is happy as this play has been changed to a double steal, and there is no error or CS on this play. Good job by @Nationals scorer Jason Lee.
In game changes do not count against a team so Washington remains at two changes this year. pic.twitter.com/Grjj6OVzAh
If you wanted to read about the good parts of the game from the Phillies’ perspective, you can pretty much stop reading now. Because after that, they did a whole lot of nothing against heretofore struggling starter Corbin.
Corbin has had difficulty with his command most of the season, but he avoided issuing any free passes to the Phillies on Thursday. The Phillies got just four runners aboard after the first inning, and two of those came in the eighth inning, after Corbin had exited the game. (In case you were curious, reliever Daniel Hudson was able to snuff out that brief rally by retiring Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins.)
Unlike Corbin, Zach Eflin has pitched well in 2021, but he turned in his worst start of the season. He gave up two-run homers to both Schwarber and Bell in the first inning, putting the Phillies in a hole they would not recover from.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Eflin’s performance was that he issued two unintentional walks, doubling his season total.
To his credit, Eflin steadied after the first, and lasted six innings. He gave up another run in the sixth, but that was more the fault of poor defense behind him.
While winning a three-game road series was nice, it would have been even nicer if the Phillies could have completed the sweep. But it goes to show that sometimes, even in the midst of their worst seasons, veteran players can still find a way to produce a highlight or two.